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Sprint’s iPhone 4S launch: ‘best ever day of sales’

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Sprint’s iPhone gamble has begun to pay off. The wireless provider announced today that its offering of Apple’s iPhone 4S “resulted in Sprint’s best ever day of sales in retail, web, and telesales.” In addition, Sprint recorded lower losses than expected during its third fiscal quarter, which ended before the launch of the iPhone 4S on October 14.

According to its earnings report, Sprint gained a net total of 1.3 million wireless subscribers during the third quarter, which is more than it has achieved in the past five years. The subscriber growth was driven by adding 304,000 postpaid subscribers, 485,000 prepaid, and 835,000 wholesale and affiliate additions.

Sprint reports a net loss of $301 million, or 10 cents a share, on revenue of $8.3 billion, which is a 2 percent jump from a year ago. Wall Street analysts had predicted a loss of 22 cents a share on revenue of $8.38 billion.

Third quarter sales were primarily driven by Android-based devices from Samsung and Motorola, and new BlackBerry devices.

During the company’s earnings call, Sprint chief executive Dan Hesse said this of the iPhone 4S:

Our early results of selling the iPhone for an iPhone 4S have confirmed the iPhone’s ability to attract new customers. What one hopes to see from the device is a high percentage of gross adds, new customers and the revenue to Sprint. The time we have been selling this device is very short, the early results indicate the iPhone is breaking the previous Sprint record held by the Evo in terms of percentage of device buyers who are gross adds or new to Sprint in the weeks following the launch. We believe two weeks in the March is not enough time to constantly estimate gross add percentages but we plan to provide you with the estimate after the full fourth-quarter results are in. But, early indications are extremely encouraging.

Sprint has reportedly put all its chips in on Apple’s new handset, having committed $20 billion over the next four years to purchase at least 30.5 million iPhone units. Unfortunately, iPhone 4S users have already begun experiencing data speed issues with their Sprint service, something both Sprint and Apple are reportedly working to correct.